Together Forever Vol.5
A Covenant by Sacrifice
As believers, we have a covenant relationship with God, made possible through the sacrifice of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. So, most often, a covenant will cost us something.
What is a covenant?
It is a formal agreement that is legally binding; a formal promise or agreement to do something. In other words, a covenant is a promise you cannot afford to break. For example, if you enter into a deed of covenant to pay a certain sum regularly, it is legally binding and you cannot afford to break it.
In the Old Testament, we read about the covenants God entered with many people, starting with Noah, in the Covenant of the Rainbow (Genesis 9: 9-15). As a matter of fact, the word ‘Covenant’ is used 292 times in the Bible, signifying its importance. Whenever we see the rainbow in the sky, we remember God’s covenant with Noah.
The circumcision of a male child also reminds us of the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 17). All through the Bible, we see that God never broke His covenant because He cannot go back on His word. In Numbers 23:19, we are told that “God is not a man that He should lie; He doesn’t change His mind like humans do. Has he ever promised, without doing what he said?” (Living Bible). Also, in Deuteronomy 7:9, we are told that the Lord our God “He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant…”
What do we see today, a mockery of covenant, even amongst “born again” believers. Recently, it was reported in the 700 Club that the atheists boasted in their web site that they had a lower percentage of divorces than amongst the so-called believers! Wow! How can we afford to let the heathen blaspheme the name of our God?
The Marriage Covenant
When we enter into a marriage relationship, we enter into a covenant with our spouse. The marriage certificate and the exchange of rings are symbols of that covenant relationship. And it is meant to be an “ever lasting covenant”, hence it is “until death do us part”. Usually, the partners exchange vows
“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my troth”.
What is a vow? It is “a solemn or earnest pledge or promise binding the person making it to perform a specified act or behave in a certain way”. In Deuteronomy 23 :21-23 it says “when you make a vow to the Lord, be prompt in doing whatever it is you promised him, for the Lord demands that you promptly fulfill your vows; it is a sin if you don’t”.
This is scary! One submits to the fact that many marriages are under strain. This strain gets very difficult and unbearable when one partner has been unfaithful, since an aspect of that marriage vow is “forsaking all others and keeping only to each other”. This is where the grace and the mercy of God step in. The Bible says that where sin does abound, the grace of God abounds much more. The point is this, if we all realise that we are debtors to the grace and mercy of God, how much easier it would be for us to forgive each other. Every Christian ought to realise that we have only one enemy. It is this enemy, the devil, who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. His target is Christians; hence it is not surprising that divorce is on the increase among believers.
The Two ‘Gardens’
We must never forget that the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden began through the institution of marriage. The devil deceived Eve into disobedience, which cost she and Adam their very special relationship – broken fellowship with God. But then look at how God brought back reconciliation also in a Garden, The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will to that of the Father.
It was through His submission that redemption came to man. Also, it wasn’t a coincidence that during His earthly ministry, Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding – in Cana of Galilee. What do all these suggest? God is very much interested in marriage; hence it was the very first institution He established.
Beloved, no matter what you may be facing in your marriage right now, no matter the pressure the enemy is putting on you to end your relationship, don’t give up; don’t despair. Surrender your will to that of the Father, as Jesus did in that Garden.
The Bible says it is better for us not to make a vow than to make one and to break it. Remember, we are all debtors to God’s love. And this love, which has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that He has given to us, covers a multitude of sins.
A Good Report
The 700 Club reported recently about a Christian couple that divorced after the woman confessed to having an adulterous affair, whilst her husband was busy ministering everywhere. They were divorced for about three years, until God spoke to the heart of the man to be reconciled to his wife. Today, they are serving God together. It also reported the case of Jerry, who spent 45 years praying for her alcoholic husband. She filed for divorce after 20 years of marriage, when she found her husband was having an affair. Nevertheless, she kept on praying for him. On their 50th wedding anniversary, her husband, Paul accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour, and they renewed their marriage vows. I know another couple that were separated for 15 years and then came together. They were not, and are still not born again, yet they were able to work things out. Today, when you see them together, you’d never believe they were ever separated, much more, for 15 long years. That relationship has never ceased to amaze me. For, ‘with God, all things are possible’.
The Reward of Sin
Beloved, sin is sin, and God does not attach special weights to specific sins, hence, in Revelations 21: 7-8, the Bible names all who will have their part in the Lake that burns with fire and brimstone “the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone ”.
Is there any of us who has never lied or done things for which we were later ashamed of? If God could forgive us, can we not forgive another, including our spouses? That was why Jesus gave the Parable of the Unprofitable servant who although he was forgiven much, would not forgive another one who owed him very little. This is exactly what is happening in the world today, especially in the institution of marriage. We place the sin of adultery above every other sin, whereas, God sees EVERY sin as being punishable.
Do not allow the enemy to keep on accusing your spouse before your eyes anymore. You can choose to forgive. Remember again that you are in a covenant relationship that only death will part you. Ask God to help you today, to be true to your word, including your marriage vow.
Mockery of the Covenant?
Whilst some are facing very difficult issues in their marriages, there are some who make a mockery of their marriage covenant. This reminds me of someone I know who although was in love with another who was unable to pay her fare to join him overseas, got married to another, who could pay her way there, thus using him as an instrument of financial gratification. Of course the unholy affair came to the open and the marriage, which was entered into without any commitment, ended.
Our marriage covenant is a covenant entered into requiring sacrifices on the part of the man and his wife. Hence, the Bible says “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cling unto his wife and they shall become one”. Besides, the woman makes an even greater sacrifice, a sacrifice requiring her to give up her maiden name and to take on a new identity – “Mrs. XXX”
Thus the marriage covenant is not one to be taken lightly.
Dearly beloved, if God so freely forgave us undeserving sinners by His grace so rich and so free, why wouldn’t we for the sake of love for Him, forgive those who have wronged us, including our spouses? However, whilst we are assured of the richness of the grace and the forgiveness of God, let us not make it an excuse for us to be unfaithful to our spouses and to God.
It is my prayer that the fear of the Lord would keep us from evil, and would help us remain true to Him and to one another. Our Lord is coming for His spotless bride and we cannot afford for anything to stain our garments of ‘holiness unto the Lord’.